27 November 2007

Good ole' Gus strikes again

Opposition has to come from somewhere, and its most consistent form appears to be former Fremont mayor Gus Morrison, who wrote a letter to the Fremont City Council criticizing the A's Community Specific Plan. In this round he assesses the A's parking plan as inadequate, citing the A's as having "only 5,800 permanent parking spaces identified for the proposed 32,000-seat ballpark."

Those who have been reading these pages for a while know that 5,800 permanent spaces only tells part of the story. As mentioned in a previous post, here's the true parking breakdown:
  • Interim/opening day buildout: 21,450 spaces (11,304 ballpark/10,146 non-ballpark)
  • Final buildout: 20,646 spaces (10,500 ballpark/10,146 non-ballpark)
The interim plan includes the use of the 41-acre West Cushing parcel, which will be gradually built out into mixed development over several years. Just as the City of San Jose has an agreement with the Sharks to maintain a certain number parking spaces, the A's will have a similar agreement with Fremont. Early indications are that the right number is 10,500, which is more than the current Coliseum lot capacity. There are options available to bridge the 4,700-space gap:
  • Use of the 40-acre city-owned parcel next to the planned rail station. The lot will be somewhat remote and the city may want to open it up to more uses than just parking (for instance, a public park) which would limit the space available. As the A's negotiate with the city and the school district on space allotted for public use and parking, it's likely the city-owned parcel will be divvied up in a manner that suits all parties. Should that not work out the A's can also...
  • Build garages. Keith Wolff has indicated that this option exists if demand calls for it. Keep in mind that they're already building 10,000 parking spaces in garages for residential and commercial use. They'll have agreements in place to preserve required parking for both of those uses, so the ballpark requirement won't be able to infringe. Additional garage space may become a necessity as the West Cushing parcel is developed. That responsibility won't fall on Fremont, it's up to the A's. In the end, having adequate amounts of parking is sound business. At least in this case, the A's have the better part of 10 years to plan and adjust accordingly. Then there's also yet another option...
  • Buy additional surrounding lots. I pointed out in my breakdown of the CSP that the A's haven't bought all of the Brandin Court properties yet. Having only 2/3 of that area alone accounts for the aforementioned 5,800 spaces. Add in the remaining properties and you add another 1,000 or so. Having one large contiguous space near the ballpark allows for flexibility if/when a garage comes into play.
For some reason, Morrison seized upon this bit from the Parking Facilities description:
It should also be noted that there are approximately 8.4 million square feet of R&D/Office, Industrial and Warehouse space within 1 mile of the proposed Cisco Field with an estimated 12,000 parking stalls. It is very common for a portion of surrounding commercial owners/tenants to sell parking for ballpark related events in evenings and on weekends when their parking stalls are not in use.
He then took the time to count 4,199 non-retail spaces within one mile of the ballpark site, based on calculations using Google Earth. While I applaud Morrison for using such a good application, his worry appears to be misplaced. He's probably right about his estimate, especially now that a large swath of previously industrial-zoned land in the area is being converted into commercial (the old Creative Labs warehouse comes to mind). Still, nowhere in the CSP do the A's factor these third-party, privately-owned spaces into their parking estimates. Nor do they say this type of use will become part of the eventual parking plan. There may be possibilities there thanks to the fact that much of the land in the area is owned by ProLogis and Lam Research, who can act as go-betweens (ProLogis is helping on the parking plan for the existing Pacific Commons center). Even if there isn't a single space that comes from these third-party lots, there will be over 20,000 spaces available for the entire ballpark village. Then there's also this nugget from the same paragraph:
It is also anticipated that a portion of Cisco Field attendees would shop/dine at the Mixed Use District prior to the game and would qualify for a discounted validation to park within the Mixed Use District as they are also patrons of that district.
How many fans would take advantage? There's no estimate and that's a good thing. Fans who choose to take this option end up with a win-win, as they lighten the load on the ballpark parking facility, they get (likely) discounted parking, and they stick around a little longer before and/or after the game to lessen the strain on road infrastructure.

Morrison's next salvo will involve traffic. I hope (and expect) it to be more enlightening than his crying wolf about parking.